The next Maharashtra chief minister will be from the Shiv Sena, its chief Uddhav Thackeray said on Tuesday, as he continued to play hardball with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — its ally in the state and the Centre — which is attempting to convince the Sena about teaming up ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.
“The next chief minister of Maharashtra will be from Shiv Sena; I am determined and moving ahead with this resolve.” Uddhav’s comments come just weeks after BJP’s national president Amit Shah met him in Mumbai on June 6 to mend ties.
Speaking at his party’s 52nd foundation day, Uddhav sent out mixed signals — he continued to criticise the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but did not talk on the issue of the alliance, or comment on his son and Sena’s youth wing chief Aaditya’s remark earlier in the day that the party would go solo; he welcomed the BJP’s decision to pull out of its alliance with the People’s Democratic Party in Jammu and Kashmir, but also attacked the Centre for suspending security operations in the state during Ramzan.
“We welcome the decision to pull out of the J&K government, but it took three years to come to this decision. Over 600 soldiers have died during this time. If terrorists don’t have a religion, why announce the unilateral ceasefire in Kashmir during Ramzan? Pakistan has never announced a ceasefire during Diwali, Navratri or Ganpati,” Uddhav said. He, however, was clear when he said he will not join the third front, which is being formed to take on the BJP.
Thackeray also mocked the BJP’s membership drive while kicking off his own party’s membership drive, with an aim to get a crore members. “I don’t believe in membership drives through missed calls, it should happen in person.” The BJP had carried out a membership drive where people could enroll by giving a missed call.
On the third front, Uddhav sent out a clear message to Sharad Pawar and the other political parties that he would not be a part of it. “Now, like-minded parties are coming together, but like-mindedness is not that our party should come to power, or we would get this portfolio. Like-mindedness is to know what the people of the country want and work towards it. I would come together for such a cause, but which is the party that has this aim?” he asked.